The Diocese of Rochester can’t stop child sex abuse cases in the state
More than two years ago, a group of sexual abuse survivors in New York City agreed to stay their lawsuit under the Child Victims Act. The Diocese of Rochester, in turn, has indicated it may resolve its claims in a settlement through a bankruptcy settlement.
On Monday, a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the survivors to resume their previously halted actions against hundreds of independent Catholic companies that had not filed for bankruptcy protection. His scathing ruling criticized what the judge perceived as the diocese’s tough tactics.
“Casting itself as a victim, trying to bring justice to survivors of abuse, the Diocese predicts that if litigation in state court is allowed to proceed against one of the Catholic corporations, ‘the Diocese could be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,” “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R Warren written in a 16-page decision and order. “It’s a pretty heavy threat to direct at the people who are the real victims here – the survivors of abuse.”
Michael Garabedianthe famous childhood sexual abuse lawyer portrayed in the film Projectorcelebrated the decision on behalf of 90 of its customers who filed claims in these state proceedings.
“The court’s decision to deny the diocese’s motion to stay litigation in state courts against independent Catholic societies will provide survivors with justice and validation,” wrote Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of survivors of abuse of the clergy over the years. “The justice and validation that has been going on for decades and decades.”
Some survivors lost that opportunity forever, the judge noted.
“In the nearly 3 years that this Chapter 11 case has been ongoing, at least 3 abuse survivors have died,” the decision states. “Whether these abuse survivors had any potential CVA claims against any of the non-debtor Catholic corporations is now largely academic. But, what is not academic is the fact that these survivors of abuse have lost the chance to seek justice in court. Given the age of many survivors of abuse, if they are barred from moving forward with actions against independent Catholic corporations, it is likely that others will be denied the ability to seek justice. because the sands of time are working against them.
At the heart of Judge Warren’s scathing decision is the Child Victims Act (CVA), a law passed by the New York legislature to extend the statute of limitations. The law’s enactment sparked a flood of litigation by alleged victims, who lawmakers acknowledged might need time to deal with the legacy of abuse.
“Survivors of abuse have been silenced, in many cases, for decades,” Warren wrote. “The CVA window gave them the right to be heard. Instead, the abuse victims agreed to refrain from pursuing their CVA claims against the Independent Catholic Corporations in the hope that the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case might provide an adequate measure of justice. After nearly 3 years, victims of abuse have indicated their desire to seek redress from non-debtor Catholic corporations. In response, the Diocese asked the Court to enjoin abuse survivors, while also announcing its intention to seek confirmation of a Chapter 11 plan over the objection of abuse survivors. After decades of silence, this might seem ironic to survivors of abuse.
The attorney for the Diocese of Rochester did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Read the decision, below:
(Image via YouTube screenshot)
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]